Tracking Post-Sturgis Rally COVID-19 Threats Not Easy

 As health officials feared, it’s proving nearly impossible to track potential COVID-19 exposures among the hundreds of thousands of bikers who attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally earlier this month, but their bigger worry – a huge spike in cases – hasn’t happened, at least not yet.

       The state health departments in Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, and South Dakota have reported just 81 cases with reports of infection also in Washington and North Dakota. The Rally ended on Sun the 16th and the infectious period is 14 days, so numbers could go either way.

     The threat is widespread. An analysis of anonymous cell phone data by Camber Systems, a firm that aggregates cell phone activity for health researchers, found that 61% of all the counties in the U.S. have been visited by someone who attended Sturgis.

       A good share of the roughly 7,000 residents of Sturgis wanted this year’s Rally postponed, despite the badly-needed economic boost it brings, because they worried more about COVID-19.

      Sturgis is conducting mass testing with about 1,200 tests available and the city manager says more than 850 people have already signed up to be tested.

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